I read the debut of Rachel Hawkins' first series, Hex Hall, way back when it first released and found it to be a fun, light twist on the paranormal ph...moreI read the debut of Rachel Hawkins' first series, Hex Hall, way back when it first released and found it to be a fun, light twist on the paranormal phenomenon that was saturating bookstores. I still have not read the third book in that series because of my inability to keep up with series when so many other books are out there, but I happily began School Spirits, the new spin-off, and found it to be almost as delightful as Hex Hall.
Although I admit my memories of Hex Hall are rather fuzzy, being that I read the book so long ago, I do remember the humorous, even spunky, tone of heroine Sophie Mercer. Izzy, the narrator of School Spirits, is not quite as bubbly as her cousin, but she's fun all the same. Her upbringing as a paranormal cop of sorts makes her both capable of handling the more dangerous aspects of her job with ease, a badass trait if there ever was one, as well as rather practical and level-headed. I greatly appreciated this practicality when she headed out into the "real world" for the first time, since she so easily could have been obnoxiously enthusiastic or unaware of how things at high school go. Instead, she takes in her new surroundings trying to act as normally as possible, which really makes her mishaps funnier. Plus, her ease going in makes her new friendships seem so much more valid, since she doesn't judge her peers quite like everybody else does. Being that these people become so important to the story, this normalcy was greatly appreciated.
I do like Izzy quite a lot, but with other aspects of this book I am a bit more torn. I love that even when Izzy isn't dealing directly with paranormal happenings, there is always a sense of them in the background. Whether it's with her friends, love interest, or the guy trapped in the mirror at her house, there's always a sense of magic and ghosts about, which makes even the high school P.E. scenes fun to read. However, I think this book attempted far too much in such a short amount of time. There's Izzy's new school life, her ghost-hunting friends, and possibly magical love interest to worry about, plus a missing sister, emotionless relationship between Izzy and her mother, the actual ghost hauntings, and a slew of other conflicts. It's far too much for a 300 page book (with no sequel) to cover, so much of it ended up feeling shallow and emotionless. Everything ended up rushed and unresolved, which sucks considering it was such a delight until then.
Too short to handle all it tries to cover, School Spirits is nevertheless a fun read, with a heroine that matches the balance between silly and serious in this book's many conflicts.(less)
I wasn't expecting to enjoy Linked very much. The cover is one of the better ones that feature a girl with long, flowing hair, but it didn't take me v...moreI wasn't expecting to enjoy Linked very much. The cover is one of the better ones that feature a girl with long, flowing hair, but it didn't take me very long to burn out on all these clone/twin/whatever books that popped up out of nowhere. However, my friends asked me to read it and tell them what I thought, and I was pleasantly surprised to find I really enjoyed it for all of its action and space adventures.
Linked suffers a similar fate to most other first novels in a series in that it takes a while to get past the exposition. And even with all the introductory world-building, it took me a while to figure out what exactly the girls were running from. I definitely got a sense of the tension present around the existence of Lin, with all the effort Elissa put into properly keeping her identity secret, but it took most of the book to reveal why exactly such secrecy was necessary. Linked does have the benefit that much of the running the girl do is rather exciting; even without much of a defined purpose, they manage to get into all sorts of trouble on their adventure, which I found fun to read about even without much context. Plus, there's a lot of space/rocket/interplanetary drama, which is by far more enjoyable than any Earth stuff would be.
Another of Linked's setbacks is that, while the main girls are fairly believable, other characters are so flat I could not help but roll my eyes at some of their actions. I rather enjoyed reading about the developing relationship between Elissa and Lin, for even though Elissa is dedicated to keeping the other girl safe, they still face a fair share of problems that make her question what, exactly, their relationship entails. It's some interesting stuff, especially when you factor in Elissa's family's role in drama, since certain family members are more open to Lin's existence than others. However, some of the other leading characters I simply do not care about. Love interest Captain Cadan, for example, is more dull on his own than the relationship between him and Elissa, which is too fast-paced to make much sense anyway. Keeping their relationship platonic would have made things so much better.
The one-dimensional characters and action that seems to be without a greater point make Linked occasionally boring, but the complexity of certain relationships and excitement made it enjoyable for me anyway. I think the sequel has true potential to be even better. (less)